We love Hepburn Shire and take seriously our job to look after it for future generations. But we can’t do it alone. It is up to all of us to play our part. Read on to find out what Council is doing to improve the sustainability of Hepburn and what you can do to help.
Sustainability is one of five key Strategic Objectives in the Hepburn Shire Council Plan 2017-2021 and is fundamental to protect the natural environment, the liveability and livelihoods of residents and businesses across the Shire.
Council is committed to taking action in the following areas to improve the sustainability of the Hepburn region:
“Climate change has been described by the World Health Organization (2015) as the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century. The unfolding climate crisis requires an immediate response to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of Victorians, now and into the future.”
Dr. Brett Sutton, MMBS MPHTM, FAFPHM, FRSPH, FACTM, MFTM Victorian Chief Health Officer
Hepburn Shire Council unanimously declared a climate emergency in September 2019. In doing so, we joined around 1900 jurisdictions across 34 countries recognising that climate change poses serious risks to the people of Hepburn Shire, Victoria, Australia and the world.
The emergency acknowledges that temperature rise above 1.5°C will lead to major and irreversible damage to ecosystems. Up to one million species face extinction. Locally, climate change will increase fire hazard with an increase in hot days, impact rainfall patterns and increase the likelihood of extreme weather events.
Taking action on climate change – IN THE COMMUNITY
We are responding to climate change
Hepburn Shire Council is already responding to climate change by reducing greenhouse emissions, reducing waste to landfill and restoring biodiversity. This includes emissions due to Council operations, but also supporting the community and industry within the Shire to address their own emissions.
Hepburn Z-NET – Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy
Hepburn Z-NET is a collaborative partnership bringing together community groups, organisations, experts and council to shift the Hepburn Shire to zero-net energy by 2025 and zero-net emissions by 2030
Council is a partner of the award winning Hepburn Zero Net Emissions Transition (Z-NET) project. Hepburn Z-NET is a collaborative partnership bringing together community groups, organisations, experts and council to shift the Hepburn Shire to zero-net energy by 2025 and zero-net emissions by 2030. The Hepburn Z-NET partnership developed and is delivering a suite of programs aspiring to 100% renewable energy, reduction of emissions and uses real, local data to deliver an emissions baseline so that we can track progress over time.
The Hepburn Z-NET Community Transition Plan (CTP) is a 10-year holistic masterplan laying out a detailed baseline of where Hepburn emissions are and the strategies available for different sectors and emission types.
Hepburn Z-Net Programs
Home Energy Assessments and Energy Savvy Upgrades Program
The Z-NET Home Energy Assessments and Energy Savvy Upgrades Program is giving Hepburn Shire residents support to improve building comfort and running costs by tackling energy efficiency, providing energy audits and some funding for efficiency upgrades.
For those residents who are eligible for the program, you may be able to access a free assessment valued at $330 dollars and a subsidy from the State Government of up to $880 dollars. Led by Transition Creswick, this program is a great opportunity to make your home more comfortable and affordable to run.
This is a Council led project where Council purchases solar PV systems upfront for eligible pensioners and low income households within the Shire. This cost is then recouped using a ‘Special Rates Charge’ through an interest free loan on the property. Households are only encouraged to proceed when modelling suggests that annual energy savings will be $100 greater than the loan repayments.
Hepburn Solar Bulk Buy
The Hepburn Solar Bulk-Buy is a community initiative – supported by Hepburn Shire Council, Hepburn Wind and Z-NET Hepburn Shire – to make it easier for households and businesses to go solar and add battery storage, contributing to the Shire’s zero-net emissions target for 2030.
The More Australian Solar Homes (MASH) group, based out of Castlemaine, have been running the Hepburn Solar Bulk Buy throughout 2018, 2019 and 2020. Council has been a strong supporter of the Bulk Buy, and is proud of the high uptake of solar across the region in recent times.
Local Sustainability Groups, partners and associations
Hepburn Shire has strong community leadership on sustainability projects, as evidenced by the existence of numerous local Sustainability Groups. These groups work across many of the towns and villages around the Shire and are vital in helping Council and the broader community in developing and implementing local projects.
Get involved in the sustainability of your local community:
- Trentham Sustainability Group
- Relocalise Hepburn
- Transitions Creswick
- Hepburn Shire is also home to Australia’s first community owned wind farm, Hepburn Wind
- Hepburn Shire Council is a proud member of the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, together with 12 other Councils from Central and Northern Victoria.
Taking action on climate change – AT COUNCIL
Reducing our carbon footprint
Council is actively working to reduce its own carbon footprint through its Towards Zero Emissions Roadmap. This Roadmap outlines Council’s ambition to reach zero net emissions by 2021. It includes a number of specific actions to reduce energy consumption. Projects include:
- Installation of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on Council facilities
- Retrofitting lighting in Council facilities and street lights with energy efficient LEDs
- Insulation and draft sealing of Council facilities
- Replacement of old and outdated appliances with energy efficient alternatives
- Installation of timers and smart controls to address unnecessary energy consumption
- Developing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to procure 100% renewable energy
- Purchasing electric passenger vehicles, when fit for purpose
- Installing electric vehicle chargers
- Investigating alternative fuel options for heavy vehicles and plant
Waste as a resource
The Towards Zero Roadmap notes the emissions impact of organic waste sent to landfill. While Council does not currently operate a landfill site, this waste stream remains a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Council is currently undertaking options to divert organic waste to landfill, including:
- Implementing a pilot anaerobic digestion project. This project aims to test the viability of operating a small scale anaerobic digester in the Shire, using organic waste sourced from local businesses and residents
- Expansion of the previous program of subsidised compost bins and worm farms for Shire residents
- Participating in and supporting community education programs around diversion of waste from landfill
Transition to Electric Vehicles (EVs)
Council is aware that a shift away from fossil fuel powered vehicles is on the way. In addition to transitioning Council’s own fleet to electric vehicles, we are supporting the community in making the switch.
Strategic placement of public charging stations will be critical in making the EV Transition a reality. There is already an EV charging station at Daylesford Town Hall (funded by Hepburn Wind) and some others scattered around the Shire.
Sustainability funding opportunities
Supporting you to take action
Towards Zero Community Grants Program – Now open (19 April 2021)
Towards Zero Community Grants Program is open once a year and aims to support projects within Hepburn Shire which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, through reduced energy consumption, carbon draw-down and/or increasing the use of renewable energy in community facilities.
These could include (but are not restricted to):
- Renewable energy systems, such as solar PV
- Insulation and weather proofing
- Energy efficient heating/cooling systems
- Energy efficient lighting
- Energy efficient hot water, kitchen and other fixed appliances
- Carbon draw-down
- Initiatives which support or encourage low-carbon activities and education
We encourage programs that upgrade energy inefficient appliances, replace fossil fuel-based energy with renewable energy as well as programs that shift the behaviour of Shire residents to be more sustainable through education and awareness.
Who can apply?
Local not-for-profit groups and organisations, within Hepburn Shire, who are incorporated with an ABN, or have an auspicing agent.
The 2020/21 Grants Round will open on 19 April 2021. If you have a cool idea to help Hepburn reduce its impact on climate change, we want to hear from you! Email Hepburn’s Sustainability Officer to discuss your idea.
See the Towards Zero Community Grants – Program Guidelines and be in touch with us to find out if you are eligible.
Quarterly Community Grants – Sustainability stream
These grants are more focused on specific small projects or programs. These grants are $1000-$2000 and are released monthly.
Hepburn Shire Council has committed to the following external programs, with the intention of showing support for bold and collaborative action on Climate Change:
- The State Government’s Take2 initiative
- The Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership
- Hepburn Wind MoU: In 2018, Hepburn Shire Council and Hepburn Wind, with the support of the Shire’s existing sustainability groups, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This MoU outlined how we would work collaboratively together, through the Z-NET project, to allow Hepburn to become a zero net emissions shire.
Ready to take action? See a summary of resources below:
Big grants for farmers to cut energy costs and future proof their farms
Victorian farmers have a great opportunity to future proof their farms through significant Agriculture Victoria grant funding to improve the energy efficiency of their on-farm activities. The Agriculture Investment Plan has $30 million to support farmers with expert energy assessments and the potential to secure further funding towards improvements like solar power, battery storage and equipment upgrades.
To be eligible, your farm needs to spend a minimum of $8,000 inc GST per annum on energy costs (electricity, diesel, gas).